Wednesday, February 23, 2011

White supporters of African liberation denounce police occupation of black community in St. Petersburg, Florida


On Wednesday February 23 2011, Uhuru Solidarity Movement held a press conference to address the recent shooting of a police officer and subsequent military occupation of the black community in St. Petersburg, FL. The Uhuru Solidarity Movement is an organization of white Euro-Americans who organize under the leadership of the African-led Uhuru Movement to build reparations and material solidarity with the struggle for African liberation. Below is the statement delivered at the press conference by Penny Hess, chairperson of the African People's Solidarity Committee.

Last night the St. Petersburg police announced the “surrender” of an African youth, barely 16 years old, in the murder of a policeman in this city on Feb. 22. In violation of their longstanding policy, the police released the young person’s name and showed his picture on TV.

Instead of examining the reasons why a young teenager would take such an action, the police and the city of St. Petersburg have successfully demonized this young man and the whole African community in a city and a country that have already criminalized African people as threats to US white society.

We have to look at the reality that this is a teenager from a deeply impoverished African community growing up in a city that has in the recent period seen the police murders of several unarmed black teenaged men. This young man faced a bleak future in a community without jobs and economic development, with a mere 21 percent graduation rate for black males, and with 50 percent unemployment rates for African youth. The fact is 75 percent of black men in this country will be arrested and jailed before the age of 36, regardless of their actions, in a system that arrests black men 6 times more often than white men. This is a young man who grew up in a community that the mayor and city government invested millions of dollars into in order to gentrify, moving in white people while dispersing the African community.

We are standing in front of what has been “command central” here on First Avenue South, a full-blown military staging ground with tanks, trucks, armored vehicles and tents, involving hundreds of police forces, machine gun toting SWAT teams and other militarized forces. This was not set up to arrest someone; this was set up to terrorize the entire African community and put them under military occupation. This command center is here to treat the African community as an enemy population.

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement denounces this collective punishment of the historic African community of St. Petersburg following the shooting death of a police officer on Monday night.

From the white community we denounce what is the blatant and very violent retaliation against a whole impoverished community involving a 33 square-block siege including the systematic searches of cars by police armed with assault weapons and machine guns.

Police from several agencies, including the Florida Highway Patrol, the Tampa Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office met in the parking lot of Tropicana Field
Heavily armed, military style police forces were storming through the African community in intimidating house-to-house searches, supposedly looking for the suspect. The community reported police in military uniforms and checkpoints on every corner, with helicopters flying overhead, even as the police had stated to the media that they had no expectations of finding the suspect.

The policeman was shot near downtown, but the area under siege has been the African community several blocks south, even though the white community several blocks north could have been cordoned off.

The area where the shooting happened is a neighborhood that is being highly gentrified by the white community. Police descended on the area, after a resident called the police on a supposed “prowler” who had committed no crime. The Uhuru Solidarity Movement calls on the white community and the neighborhood associations to end the vigilante stance of calling the police anytime they see a black person walking down the sidewalk in their neighborhoods—actions that often escalate into police violence.

This is the area where St. Petersburg mayors and powers-that-be have pumped millions of dollars into gentrification with the goal of dispersing the impoverished community for the benefit of white investors and homeowners. This has resulted in an escalation of foreclosures and home losses due to enforced code violations, driving out African people who once were confined to this area and not allowed to leave after night fall.

The current brutal police occupation constitutes collective punishment of the African community of St. Petersburg in a way that is completely comparable to the collective punishment of the entire Palestinian population that is routinely imposed by the Israeli settler forces.

Such a military occupation is racist and reserved for the African community. Despite examples of white people shooting police in recent months, the entire white community is never put on lock down by revenge filled storm troops from the police department.

The fact is that the African community of St. Petersburg has long struggled against the heavy-handed policing and policies of police containment that have targeted the African community for many years. These policies have resulted in repeated police murders of young black men, along with daily harassment of citizens, including for driving while black regardless of age or gender.

This is a community under siege every day, where a nonviolent marijuana bust involves numerous police cars, SWAT teams, flash grenades and yellow tape cordoning off whole neighborhoods.

We express our outrage at the ongoing police murders of African teenaged men from TyRon Lewis, to Jarrell Walker, Marquel McCullough and Javon Dawson all who were brutally gunned down by police under the guise of a war on drugs, which is in fact a war against the African community.

Such murders do not happen in the white community despite the fact that according to US government statistics 75 percent of all drug users and sellers are white.

The St. Petersburg African community is a community where ¾ of the people live below the poverty line, where five year old children have been arrested and handcuffed by police, where unemployment is rampant and where only one-fifth of African students get a high school diploma.

This is the community where after the murder of Hydra Lacy last month, Mayor Foster unlawfully destroyed Lacy’s house and all the evidence so nobody will ever really know what happened. Foster who is the law and order mayor, clearly overstepped his authority.

All around the world, in Egypt and throughout the Middle East, we are seeing resistance to very similar conditions of imposed poverty and police repression. The entire world applauds this resistance. These same conditions are happening here.

Uhuru Solidarity Movement believes that all people have a right to resist injustice. The conditions of ongoing menacing, violent and deadly police force and relentless poverty and gentrification facing the African community of St. Petersburg has created an intolerable situation in which people have a right to struggle for justice.

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement stands in solidarity with the right of African people to resist. We stand for reparations to the families of all the young African men murdered by the police. We demand an end to this police containment and martial law in which young African people grow up in war zones created by police containment policies. We join the African community in demanding genuine economic development to uplift the entire community out of poverty.

We say “hands off the African community.” We want justice in this town, with no one community living at the expense of any other community. We demand an end to gentrification and dispersal and stand for economic development that the city promised to the African community in 1996 but never delivered. We don’t want police occupation in our town. We want justice and unity. All young people should have the ability to have a future, not some at the expense of others. We call on other white people to look at the real conditions faced by African people and see that the only solution is economic and social justice.


Defend the Rights of the African Community!
Attend the open community meeting:
Sunday, February 27, 2011
4:00 pm
Uhuru House, 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705

Uhuru Solidarity Movement – – 727-683-9949

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Video: Stop the War on the African Community

Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People's Solidarity Committee (APSC) gave this multimedia presentation at a forum on "Prisons, The Drug War and African Resistance" on January 10, 2011 at the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, FL.

The event was part of the 2011 International Conference on White Solidarity with Black Power.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Victory to the people of Egypt!

Solidarity with the Resistance in Egypt and the African Community right here!

Join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement!

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement salutes the just struggle of the people of Egypt and the growing anti-colonial resistance of Arab, African and other oppressed nations that is sweeping the globe.

We understand that the rebellions in Egypt are a manifestation of the approaching end to decades of colonial and neo-colonial rule in Egypt first by the British and then by the US. Over the last thirty years, the Mubarek regime has served the interests of US imperialism, receiving annually $1.3 billion US military aid used to repress the people. For the last thirty years, the Egyptian government has used this aid to purchase US weapons to repress, torture and terrorize the Egyptian people.

In fact, just as the tear gas canisters were made in the US, the people of Egypt face the same conditions of police terror and occupation, poverty and unemployment that the African community faces inside US cities. The city of Philadelphia alone has a $1.1 billion police budget to repress the African community—the police budget of this one city is nearly the same as the US spending on military aid to Egypt.

African people right here are refusing to sit back and see their loved ones shot down in cold blood. Police killings such as the murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California by transit cop Johannes Mehserle were caught on video; however, these types of police murders take place all over the country during “routine traffic stops,” in the back alleys and even the homes in the African community as with the police murder of 7-year-old Aiyanna Jones in Detroit or 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston of Atlanta.

However, now the tides have turned and the people of Egypt refuse to be used as cannon fodder for US imperialism, just as the African community right here is resisting.

The Obama regime, through its alliance with the neo-colonial government of Egypt, can no longer easily maintain its stranglehold on the oppressed Arab and African nations. In the same way, the US can no longer continue to carry out its “other war” on African people right in the US without African people fighting back.

Just several weeks ago, 11 police officers were killed during the course of 24 hours in cities including Detroit and St. Petersburg and Miami, Florida where African people face the daily terror of the police, a rate of unemployment reaching 70%, and an imprisonment rate of one out of eight for African men.

The growing resistance of African, Arab and oppressed people here and abroad indicate that there is no turning back. No longer can white or North American people assume that we can live our lives on a pedestal that rests on the foundation of enslavement of African people and the stolen land and genocide of the indigenous populations of the US. No longer can we assume the Arab peoples throughout the Middle East and African people throughout the world will sit back as the US continues to steal their resources through its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and its military operations on the continent of Africa through AFRICOM.

White people have historically benefited from the oppression of African people, the genocide against the indigenous people, the colonial occupation and theft of resources of the majority of the peoples on earth. That relationship continues today. Progressive North American and European peoples throughout the world must seek out our true interest in overturning our relationship as part of this oppressor nation. We must join in a principled alliance with the African Revolution that will usher in the destruction of US imperialism and free the colonized peoples of the world.

The same outcry that we see coming from the Euro-American community about the situation in Egypt needs to come in response to the US war on the African community in the US under the neocolonial government of Barack Obama.

We call on Euro-American people to support the resistance in Egypt, the resistance in the African community and the organized resistance under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party as part of the strategy for the destruction of U.S. imperialism throughout the globe.

It is time to take sides, to stand with the masses of African, Arab and indigenous peoples who are struggling to reclaim control over their land and resources and build a new world without oppressed and oppressor.

Join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement!
Support the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement’s National Convention on February 19-21st in Philadelphia, PA!




Monday, February 7, 2011

Uhuru Solidarity Movement responds to the recent rise of police shootings

Stop the criminalization of the African community in the US and support the right of African people to resist colonial occupation

Come to the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement International (InPDUM) Convention on February 19-21, 2011 in Philadelphia, PA.

Stop the US war against the African community inside the US! Support African resistance, reparations and liberation!

As the bourgeois media whips up public furor over the recent spate of shootings of police officers across the US, the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM) challenges the white community, North Americans and other potential allies of the African Liberation Movement to understand this resistance through the eyes of the oppressed community which experiences a colonial occupation inside this country.

USM believes that our greatest interest is in taking an active stand to defend the right of the African community to resist the brutal war being waged against them right here.

The ruling class has expressed alarm over the growing resistance of the African community, publishing headlines such as Fox News' “’War on Cops’ Feared After 11 Officers Shot in 24 Hours.”

What the headlines do not mention is the reality that the US war against the African community—America’s “other” war—is estimated to have claimed more victims of police murders and wounding of civilians in the US in the past several years than US casualties in Afghanistan.

Throughout North Africa and the Middle East, massive popular rebellions are erupting in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan, many led by the exploited and oppressed working class with demands to stop the police terror against their people and for democratic rights and economic justice.

The people of Egypt are engaged in street battles aiming to overthrow the neocolonial Egyptian government that receives $1.3 billion in military funding from the US annually to torture, maim and oppress the people with US-made weapons and tear gas canisters.

But as the US is openly and covertly waging wars of colonial occupation in Afghanistan and elsewhere throughout the world, it is waging a brutal full-scale war of occupation inside this country against African and Indigenous peoples. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in the fiscal year 2006 (the latest data available), federal, state and local governments spent an estimated $214 billion for police protection, corrections, and judicial and legal activities.

The long list of police murders of primarily young African men reveals the staggering frequency of state-sponsored violence committed against the African community on a daily basis. Cases such as Oscar Grant, whose murder by a BART policeman was caught on cell phone cameras in Oakland, CA in 2009, or Sean Bell, gunned down by New York policemen on the morning of his wedding are infamous.

But such police murders of African people are taking place day after day in back alleys or dark isolated streets all over the US. On January 23, 2011, school police from Skyline High School in Oakland murdered 20 year Raheim Brown who was sitting in a car outside of the high school during its annual winter ball. The murder of Raheim marked the fifth police shooting in the San Francisco Bay area in the past five weeks.

The story is the same all over the US.
  • In Miami, FL, Decarlos Moore, 36-years-old, was shot in the head by a police officer during a “routine traffic stop.”

  • In St. Petersburg, FL, Javon Dawson, 18-years-old, was shot in the back by the police at a graduation party. Marquell McCullough, was shot 14 times by police before they admitted they "had the wrong guy.” Jarrell Walker was shot in the back as he lay on the couch in his home.

  • In Atlanta the police shot and killed a 92-year-old grandmother in her home.

  • In Detroit the police shot and killed 7-year-old Aiyanna Jones in her home.
This type of state-sponsored terror and violence does not happen to white people in the U.S. It shows that under the U.S. government, the life of an African in this country has no value.

African people in the US are facing colonial conditions of poverty and occupation similar to Palestine

In the US, the median net worth of the average African household is more than 14 times less than that of the average white household. The average black household has only 10 cents for every dollar owned by white households. The total loss of wealth from the African community through the subprime mortgage scam was up to $213 billion -- the greatest loss of wealth for “non-white people” in modern US history.

Although Africans make up only 13 percent of the US population, over half of the 2.5 million people currently locked up in US prisons are African. One in eight black men in their 20s is now in prison or jail on any given day. African men are incarcerated at rates eight times higher than white men. There are more Africans tied to the prison system today than there were Africans enslaved in 1850. The statistics prove that the conditions imposed on the African community are even worse today than they were after black people's “civil rights” were supposedly won in the 1960s.

The people of Occupied Palestine face similar disparities and conditions of colonial poverty and violence. Sixty-three percent of Palestinian Arabs live below the poverty line. The Israeli unemployment rate is 6.4 percent, while the Palestinian unemployment in the West Bank is 16.5 percent and 40 percent in Gaza. Just as Africans in the US are harassed, beaten and killed during “routine traffic stops,” Palestinians are subjected to similar violence at any of the 160 Israeli military checkpoints on the roads between Palestinian cities.

On January 24, 2010, under the orders of the vicious St. Petersburg mayor, William Foster, the police bulldozed the home of Hydra Lacy, an African who had resisted police terror, allegedly shooting two police officers and one U.S. marshal. Bulldozing of homes is a tactic that is used often in Palestine by the illegitimate settler state of Israel.

Hydra Lacy's house during bulldozing. The house was completely demolished and all evidence that a house ever existed there removed.

Palestinians run in front of an Israeli bulldozer as it destroys houses next to the border of Egypt at the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip (2004)

In Palestine the bulldozing of homes is done as an exemplary collective punishment when a member of the family who owns a home is involved in resistance.

From St. Pete to Palestine, the white North American and European population amasses tremendous wealth and power at the expense of the suffering and poverty imposed on Africans, Arabs, and other oppressed peoples of the world.

North Americans, no matter how wealthy or poor, directly benefit from the gentrification and police containment of the African community. The prison industry functions as a source of economic stimulus for rural white populations and corporations, providing cheap labor and myriad spin-off jobs that benefit the general white population. The police containment policies themselves enrich the North American population and ensure the maintenance of the wealth in the hands of the white community.

Resistance of the African community is righteous and justified

Just as the occupied people of Iraq and Afghanistan are resisting, African people in the US are resisting their occupation and brutal repression. This is why within the same 24-hour period at least 11 cops were shot across the US.

On January 20, 2011, two Miami police officers were killed while occupying the impoverished African working class neighborhood of Liberty City in Miami, FL. Four days later on January 24, 39-year-old Hydra Lacy, in the African community of South St. Petersburg, allegedly killed two local police, wounded a US marshal and held off more than 100 police from various state and federal police agencies for several hours before his home was razed to the ground and he was executed with two bullets to his head.

On Sunday, police were attacked during traffic stops in Indiana and Oregon. Also on Sunday, 38-year-old Lamar Moore shot and wounded four officers in a Detroit police station shooting before he was killed by police.

The shooter of the two Miami officers was Johnny Simms, a 22-year-old African resident of Liberty City. Simms' mother Lorraine described her son's final moments: “As I watched my son laying outside dying, my son told me, `Mom, they were going to kill me anyway.' He felt like he had no choice.” In the last nine months the Miami police force has murdered seven Africans in the two communities of Liberty City and Overtown.

These incidents do not occur in isolation; they are part of a growing trend. They are directly related to the intensification of the occupation of the African community in Miami and throughout the United States under the Obama administration as the economic crisis of imperialism deepens.

In Oakland, CA on March 21, 2009, two weeks after the blatant murder of Oscar Grant, when a young African man named Lovelle Mixon was pulled over in a “routine traffic stop” by two police officers, Mixon shot and killed the two officers and was held responsible for killing two additional officers following a police raid that also ended his life.

In Tampa, FL on June 29, 2010, a young African named Dontae Morris is now on trial after two police officers got shot and killed during a “routine traffic stop.”

In 2009, there were 117 police deaths. In 2010, the number increased by 37%.

The media and public officials praise the police officers as “fallen heroes” who "sacrificed their lives for our safety,” and demonize the African community just like they do for US soldiers in Afghanistan, where they praise the US military and portray the people as terrorists or criminals. Like US soldiers in Afghanistan, the police in the war against the African community serve as an occupying army and may be the targets of the community’s resistance to the brutal occupation.

The media and the ruling class in the US work to maintain our allegiance to the US State, the main perpetrator of violence against occupied, oppressed populations. The police, like the military, are the frontlines of the institution of the State that exists solely to maintain the wealth and power of the white ruling class that comes at the expense of African and oppressed peoples here and around the world.

The US State was born from the genocide of the Indigenous people, the enslavement of African people and the colonial domination of oppressed peoples around the world. It created a pedestal on which our lives rest on their stolen land, labor and resources.

Increase in resistance in this era of the Final Offensive Against Imperialism

The increasingly common acts of resistance to police occupation that we are seeing in places like Miami, St. Petersburg, Detroit, and other communities around the world are exemplary of the current period that Chairman Omali Yeshitela has characterized as the “Final Offensive Against Imperialism.”

In Afghanistan, Tunisia, Egypt and other places, the masses of people are resisting US sponsored violence, occupation and repression and demanding self-determination and control over their own communities and resources. The majority of the people on the planet, many of whom live in profound enforced poverty at the hand of the US, are tired of seeing their resources stolen for our benefit. They are determined to feed their children, to regain control over their own lives and nations and kick the colonial occupiers out of their countries.

This same kind of resistance is happening in the African community in the US. Those of us who oppose US war and occupation abroad must take a stand to stop the same war and occupation right here.

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement fully supports the right of African people to resist their colonial conditions of police occupation, massive imprisonment and dire poverty. We support the right of the African working class to build organized resistance and fight for the Revolutionary National Democratic Program, through the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement.

We recognize that the real solution to the colonial conditions faced by African people and every contradiction faced by white people as well are not to be found in the Obama administration or the two main imperialist parties, but in a revolutionary movement for self-determination led by the African working class.

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement is calling on other white North Americans and Europeans to join the forward side of history and take a stand on the side of the oppressed and into a principled relationship with the African community. We reject life at the expense of African, Arab, Indigenous and other oppressed peoples. We stand for victory to struggling peoples around the world and reparations, liberation and justice for African people right here and worldwide.

We call on other North Americans to attend the upcoming International Convention of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement, “Africans Have a Right to Resist! We Demand Freedom and Reparations Now,” which is being held in Philadelphia, PA on February 19-21, 2011. Go to NOW to register and make travel arrangements.

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The future for humanity is in the hands of the colonized African working class in unity with oppressed peoples everywhere.